There are several ways you may reduce your chance of getting sinusitis:
- Treat stuffiness (nasal congestion) caused by colds or allergies promptly. This can help you prevent a bacterial infection from developing in your sinuses.
- Avoid contact with people who have colds and other viral upper respiratory infections. If you do have contact with people who have these infections, wash your hands often, especially after being in contact with those who are infected.
- Avoid cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoke in your home and workplace. Smoke causes and further irritates inflamed membranes in your nose and sinuses.
- If you have allergies, avoid the things that trigger your allergy attacks. Consider talking to your doctor about allergy shots (immunotherapy). For more information, see the topic Allergic Rhinitis.
- Avoid breathing dry air. Consider using a humidifier at home and work to increase the moisture in the air.
Home treatment may relieve symptoms of pain and pressure associated with short-term (acute) sinusitis. Home treatment may improve drainage of mucus from the sinuses and prevent the need for antibiotics.
- Drink plenty of fluids to help keep your mucus thin.
- Apply moist heat (using a hot, damp towel or gel pack) to your face for 5 to 10 minutes, several times a day.
- Breathe warm, moist air from a steamy shower, a hot bath, or a sink filled with hot water. Avoid extremely cool, dry air. Consider using a humidifier to increase the moisture in the air in your home.
- Use saltwater nasal washes (saline lavage or irrigation) to help keep the nasal passages open and wash out mucus and bacteria. You can purchase saline nose drops at a pharmacy or make your own saline solution at home. If you make saline at home, use distilled water or water that has been boiled and then cooled. It may also help to gargle with warm salt water.
- Try over-the-counter medicines such as pain relievers and decongestants (for example, nasal spray) to relieve symptoms. Cough and cold medicines may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems. Before you use them, check the label. If you do use these medicines, always follow the directions about how much to use based on age and in some cases weight. Be careful when using some nasal-spray decongestants. They usually should not be used for more than about 3 days. Longer use can lead to further swelling of the sinus membranes after the medicine wears off (called rebound congestion), which makes pressure and swelling worse. You may end up dependent on the medicine if you start using more and more of it to get rid of the pressure and swelling.
- If you need to blow your nose, do it gently. Forceful blowing may force thick mucus back into your sinuses and block them. Keep both nostrils open when blowing your nose.
If you have chronic sinusitis, you'll probably need to continue the above home treatment measures for a long period of time to keep your sinuses clear.